Personal injuries occur daily in Utah, and without legal experience, you would not know exactly where to turn for help. The best way to tell whether you have a personal injury claim is to speak with a lawyer specializing in tort law. However, you likely have a personal injury claim if you suffered bodily harm, emotional distress, and financial loss due to someone else’s negligent action or malicious intent.
What Is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law, also known as tort law, covers various bodily and psychological injuries a person endures due to another party. This can include emotional injuries and intentional damage to a person’s reputation. Most personal injury claims have a foundation in negligence, but even without an intent to harm, the negligent person is still responsible for the injured person’s losses.
Common Personal Injury Claims
Auto accidents are the majority of personal injury claims. They include a broad spectrum of circumstances, such as cases involving one or more passenger vehicles, commercial truck accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, motorcycle collisions, boating and bus collisions, and crashes involving rideshare vehicles. Several factors can complicate these cases, including shared fault and multiple involved parties. Even in Utah, a no-fault auto insurance state, you may have the right to bypass personal injury protection insurance and file a lawsuit.
Other common personal injury claims include:
- Slip and fall accidents. Premises liability is a legal concept that governs slip and fall accidents. The idea is that property owners are responsible for maintaining safe conditions inside and outside their properties. You may have a personal injury claim if you suffer an injury on someone else’s property. However, these cases are sometimes challenging to prove, and victims often need legal assistance.
- Medical malpractice. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and healthcare companies and facilities owe patients a duty of care when providing medical services. When they cause injury to a patient through negligence or omission, they can be held legally responsible. Medical malpractice is among the most challenging types of personal injury cases.
- Product liability. Companies are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products before distributing them to the public. Flaws can occur in design or manufacturing processes, but if someone suffers an injury directly from the manufacturer’s negligence, they are liable for the damages incurred. These cases often involve class action lawsuits with multiple plaintiffs, making them complex.
- Dog bite accidents. Utah applies strict liability law to dog bite cases, which means the dog owner is almost always liable for their dog’s actions regardless of attempts to prevent or stop an attack. In most cases, the court will not consider the dog’s history.
- Wrongful death. A wrongful death can occur under any circumstance where the deceased would have a personal injury claim had they survived. For example, suppose you lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. In that case, Utah allows the surviving spouse, children, parents, and stepchildren of the deceased to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation.
Every case has unique circumstances. If you need help understanding the specific details of your case and how they may apply to a personal injury claim, consider speaking with a lawyer. There could be damages available in your case you would miss with professional assistance.
What Are the Types of Damages From a Personal Injury Claim?
The law refers to the financial value of your losses as compensatory damages. For a personal injury claim, you typically have access to two types: economic and non-economic damages. Much rarer are punitive damages, which do not compensate for a loss. Instead, they punish the defendant for grossly negligent or malicious behavior. Your case’s circumstances dictate the types of damages and the values available.
Economic compensatory damages are calculable using tangible evidence. They may include the following:
- The cost of medical expenses, including emergency medical care, medications, surgeries, doctor visits, hospital stays, medical devices, rehabilitative therapy, and any ongoing treatments for your injuries
- The loss of income due to missed work, lost earning capacity caused by a permanent impairment, or loss of income from a loved one lost to wrongful death
- The cost to repair or replace any property damaged when the accident occurred
- Other related expenses, such as aides to help with household duties or childcare as you heal and transportation costs for back-and-forth travel to doctors visits
- Funeral and burial costs if you lost a loved one
- Loss of Inheritance or benefits in a wrongful death case
The non-economic damages are the psychological component of a personal injury. A devastating accident can cause physical and emotional pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment in life. In a wrongful death case, you can claim loss of companionship or consortium and loss of the love, nurturing, and society your loved one provided.
Punitive damages require particular circumstances and are more common in certain types of personal injury cases because the purpose is to punish the defendant for egregious behavior. For example, most car accident cases do not warrant punitive damages. However, suppose the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, and driving recklessly when the accident occurred. In that case, the court may require them to pay punitive damages to determine that behavior in the future.
How Do You Prove Negligence?
As the claimant or plaintiff, you are responsible for providing supporting evidence for your claim that the other party was negligent. To prove negligence and the right to compensation, three components must exist in your case:
- Duty of care. You must show that the party you claim is responsible owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident. For example, in a car accident case, all drivers owe others on the road the duty of care to follow traffic laws.
- Breached duty of care. You must show they breached their duty of care, such as speeding or running a red light.
- Causation. Evidence must support the claim that the breach of duty resulted in the accident that caused your injuries.
Finally, you cannot file a personal injury case without damages. Logically, you cannot ask for compensation if you suffered no losses. If you want to understand liability and negligence in your case better, a personal injury lawyer can help.
When Do You Need Legal Representation?
If you have questions about an injury you suffered due to another person’s negligence or malintent and have questions about your right to compensation, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options. Several circumstances can complicate a personal injury case, and you may need legal representation under questionable circumstances. A consultation is the best way to find out what step you should take next.
At Siegfried and Jensen, we have helped victims of personal injury in Utah get the help they need. We handle cases involving auto accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability, and many other types of personal injury. We understand the financial burden of these cases and the urgency to recover your losses. Therefore, when we take on your case, we ensure all the work is done as quickly as possible so you can begin building your life. Contact Siegfried and Jensen at (801) 845-9000 to schedule your free consultation and speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.